Is This The Best Designed Furniture Ever?
Mr Dieter Rams. Photograph by Mr Michael Kretzer
Mr Dieter Rams is one of the great design heroes of the 20th century. His work from 1955 to 1997 as head of product design at German brand Braun defined a new language of minimal elegance and utility, and is often rightly cited as a key influence behind the stark, pristine visual language Mr Jonathan Ive created for Apple at the turn of the millennium. However, as often as his work is paid tribute to, the focus is often on his small electronic goods, such as the TP1 radio (1959) or SK 61 record player (1962). And this tends to distract from the fact that he was also an excellent designer of furniture. Clearly sensing this imbalance, this November, the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, is mounting the first exhibition that focuses on Mr Rams’ brilliant furniture, including chairs, tables, and the iconic 606 universal shelving system, which is today produced by Vitsoe.
What’s so ingenious about Mr Rams designs for living is that, while their streamlined aesthetic seems futuristic even now, they are completely non-intrusive, focusing on a clean, yet inviting palette of off-white, brown and black that helps each piece melt into its surroundings. Versatility and adaptability was also a key concern of Mr Rams – reflected in the fact that many of these designs are modular, from the 606 shelves, to the 620 armchairs (which can be hooked up together to build a sofa) and the rarely seen 740 system, an ingenious series of chairs and tables, based on Japanese sitting mats, that can be endlessly customised via round stacking discs. The exhibition runs through to March next year, and if you live in or are travelling to the area, it’s an essential visit for any design enthusiast. In the mean time, feel free to ogle the pictures below – and start typing those numbers into eBay.
Left: Stacking Programme 740. Right: Side Table 621. Photographs by Mr Christoph Sagel, courtesy of Appel Design Gallery, Berlin
Chair Programme 601/02 (RZ 60). Photograph by Mr Christoph Sagel, courtesy of Appel Design Gallery, Berlin
Left: Chair Programme 620 (RZ 62). Right: Chair Programme 622. Photographs by Mr Christoph Sagel, courtesy of Appel Design Gallery, Berlin.